Total Depravity are you Fallen

total depravity

Total Depravity and our Falleness

I have to admit, when I first encountered the doctrine of total depravity I was kinda taken aback.  I mean really, after all, I had been a Christian for a few years, I didn’t go around pulling the wings off of butterflies, and I only occasionally kicked kittens, so how could anyone claim that I was or at one time had  been totally depraved.  Honestly, before I was saved I was pretty bad but I was nowhere near the worst among my cadre of friends and acquaintances so I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this concept of my complete sinfulness and inability to please God on my own.  Having come from a Holiness tradition my efforts meant a lot both to me and others.  I prayed nearly everyday, I read the Scriptures, I went to Church and even wore my Sunday go to meeting clothes every third Sunday.  How could God actually think that I was totally depraved….and then I started to read the Scriptures for what they actually said.

 

I was in a State of Total Sinfulness

 

Here’s where my preconceived notions came tumbling down like a four year old’s gingerbread house.  I was totally depraved, I was dead in my sins, I was wholly without any merit or righteousness of my own.  When I finally read Ephesians 2 where it says:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses

I noticed that there was a word in there that must not mean what it actually says.  I was dead in my sins and trespasses.  DEAD.  TOTAL DEPRAVITY.  Not only was I dead but I was walking in this death that Paul said afflicted me.  How was I alive and walking when God said that I was actually dead?  I realized, and not without much study, that I was spiritually dead, separated from the Giver of Life, and everything I did was contaminated with the stench of death, but where did this Death come from?  It came from my father Adam.  Now my immediate father’s name is Luther but my federal head, my representative in the Garden, the one who Fell and plunged us all into this death-his name is Adam.

When Adam partook of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, when the initial desire to disobey God’s holy command took root in his heart, he died that very day even though he lived for several hundred years tilling the ground and sweating like a mule under the curse.  By the trespass of one man we were all made sinners ( Romans 5:18-19 ) and the wages of sin is death.  As the body without the Spirit is dead ( James 2:26 ) a dead spirit separated from God will lead to a dead body.

Dead.  I still couldn’t believe it, but I could not entirely blame Adam as I liked doing what I did.  I chose everyday to flaunt the laws of God and carry out the depraved desires of my mind.  I was dead, a child of wrath, following the course of this world and living in the passions of the flesh.  But wait a minute…I didn’t do EVERY evil thought (Genesis 6:5 ) that crept into my putrid mind did I?  I hadn’t broken every law ( James 2:10 ) of God had I? It didn’t matter for everywhere I turned I was guilty.  Jesus Himself said:

Matthew 5:28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

and

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Total depravity and Seeking God

Ok, I was in a real quandary now as my heart had condemned me, my actions had condemned me, and my thoughts had condemned me.  But didn’t I seek after God and find Him?  Well, actually no, I didn’t.  Ya see, the Scriptures do speaks to this as well in Romans 3:

both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”

What a blow!!  I didn’t even seek after God to procure my salvation so what defense did I have left?  None, absolutely none.  Not only had I been totally depraved, so had all of humanity.  We were all in the same boat…well more like a spiritual morgue but you know what I mean.  What was worse was the fact that I kept finding these passages in the Bible that affirmed that I was wholly corrupted by sin and unable to come to Him.  For example:

1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned

Romans 8:7-8 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

What I had failed to understand about Total Depravity

But I did good things.  I really did.  I helped people, I donated time to friends in need, I sometimes picked up my own dirty clothes so I couldn’t be as bad as I could be, could I?  No I wasn’t, but that is not what is meant by ” total depravity. ”  What we are intended to believe about total depravity is this: we are corrupt in both body and soul and completely unable to perform any righteousness in regards to God and His standards.  See, Jesus even said that we did good things while being evil:

Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

We can do good things in the eyes of the world and in the opinions of others but just not anything worthy to save us.  We cannot justify ourselves by earning our way into the good graces of God.  We do not act as badly as we possibly can, by His restraining Providence, but everything we do is tainted by sin and our best actions, our utmost righteousness, is as filthy rags before our Holy God.

My Worldview was shattered

I couldn’t help but think, ” what does this mean for me now? ”  I could no longer believe in the innate goodness of man and his ability to make a free will choice in favor of God as everyone’s will was corrupt and all are spiritually dead.  NO ONE, not the best of us ever sought after God on their own initiative and neither could we even understand the things of God in our natural state.

I realized with mind enlightening clarity ( thanks to the Holy Spirit ) that salvation is of the Lord, by grace, and through faith.  It wasn’t me who deserved His favor, it was Him who bestowed His marvelous grace upon me, for while I was yet a sinner Christ died for me ( Romans 5:8 ).  I realized that my puny efforts could never unlock the doors of that mansion that He is preparing for me in glory.  I realized that He knew me and loved me while I was wholly unlovable and that I love Him because He first loved me.  I would now never forget that I, who was dead in sins, was made alive in Christ because He gave life to this wretched man.

Sola Deo Gloria

 

Death and Grief in our Lives

death and grief

The Last Enemy Death

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, (ESV)

We will all face death. It will come. Its dark tendrils encircling us. Its cold breath moving slowly over us drawing us ever further into its icy grip. We cannot escape. We cannot run. We cannot hide. We will drive the ever present reality of this dark specter to the very back of our minds, ignoring it until we can run no longer. Our eyes grow dim and our legs grow weary. We can no longer escape  judgement day. We can no longer defer the payment we are to receive as the sons of Adam.  The shadow may come quickly or slowly, peacefully or violently, but it will come.

We will say our last goodbye. We will have our last meal. We will say ” I love you ” one final time and have our last kiss. Our eyes will close to see no more in this present world.

We can cry, we can fume, we can shake our fists at Heaven and earth to no avail for we deserve our reward. We deserve death. We deserve the grave. The very best of our deeds are tainted and corrupted by sin and we cannot claim innocence when standing before the just Judge. We came from the dust and to the dust we shall return as the breath of life departs from our bodies.

We will Grieve

When death comes to our homes, when it touches those we love, we will grieve. We will grieve time no longer to be had together. We will grieve missed opportunities and wasted moments. We will grieve senseless arguments and futile grudges that pride did not let us put away. We will grieve over those lost too soon and those that life carried far away.

We will cry and laugh. Shout and whisper. We will console and be consoled but life will never be the same. In this world we will never see their smile, hear their laugh, or feel their touch. We will cry ourselves to sleep and awaken to find that the world continues, time marching ever onward with so many seemingly oblivious to our hurt. To the ache and pain that lingers. To the shadows that darken our days.
Our grief Is not without Hope

Romans 6:23 b

but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

1 Thessalonians 4:13
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (ESV)

The shadows will not and cannot last for those in Christ. The Last enemy, death, has been defeated. Though we will face it death has no power. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we do not have to fear this
evil. He is with us. He carries us. He strengthens us. The Spirit is our Comforter who never leaves us.

This hope is not without foundation or cause. It is not a leap of faith into the darkness or the hedging of our bets.  He, Christ Jesus, has risen and conquered death and for those united to Him by faith we have the promise of eternal life. The wages of our sin have been paid, our debt is gone, and the curse broken.

Though our eyes close in death and darkness they will open to life and glorious light. Though we grieve and mourn for a time a great and wonderful reunion is on the horizon. It is coming. Jesus is returning and He is bringing those saints who have fallen asleep with Him.

They will be raised for death has no hold on them. Our elder brother is the firstfruits of the resurrection and what was sown in death will be raised in life. This mortality will put on immortality and this corruption will become incorruptible. Death will be no more and our grieving will end. The victory is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.

We have hope and it is in Christ. We have assurance and it is in Christ.  He who began a good work in us will complete it as He is the author and perfecter of our faith.

If you do not have this hope call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved. The call has gone out to repent and believe and ignorance cannot be claimed. Repent and believe and be a part of this great reunion of all believers from all times.

Sola Deo Gloria

The Valley of the Shadow

Death Valley

Into the Valley of the Shadow

Psalm 23 KJV
4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

We all, invariably, will enter into The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Valley Shadows
Valley of Death

and feel the dark tendrils of night close in about us. We will encounter the fears, the losses, and hushed whispers that accompany this passage through the gloomy mists. The Shadows are heavy, as if a cloak of incalculable weight has been draped over our already weary and stooped shoulders. The darkness is oppressive, it is a living breathing evil that looks to devour all who enter into its lair. The Valley of the Shadow, littered with the remains of those who have gone before, those who were bereft of light and any comfort, offers no hope to the traveller. The path, overgrown as it is, is treacherous and strewn with obstacles both known and unknown that seek to entangle and encumber.
Continue reading “The Valley of the Shadow”

But God, though I was Dead

Dead in the Grave

I once was Dead

We are all born into this world….every man, woman, and child…..we have no choice as to the time, the place, or the circumstances of our births. We were never asked or consulted as to the preferences that we may enjoy….Some of us were born wealthy…..some poor….good looking and not so good looking….some were born to grow skinny and tall while others were to remain short….and not so skinny….We are born with different skin colors, different tastes, and different ambitions…but we all have some things in common….we all….everyone without fail….we all are descended from the first man….our very first parent…Adam. Because of this….because of our relationship to Adam…because of the Fall of Man….we will all die….

I was Dead
Insert your name here

Romans 5:12

[ Death through Adam and Life through Christ ] Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.

We will all one day pass from this life into the next….at any moment…..at any place….even quite possibly without warning: our time on this earth will be over…no second chances and no do overs….these bodies that so many of us prize will rot and decay and return to the elements that formed them

Genesis 3:19
For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

There is however, a more sinister and pervasive death that came with the Fall and spread to all men…this death is often overlooked or downplayed….this death we all share in and unless remedied will, without fail….lead to our eternal damnation. What is this death? Am I really affected by it?

Ephesians 2:1

2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens,[a] the spirit now working in the disobedient.[b] 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us,[c] 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

Note how it starts…YOU!!! personal and accusatory…..you….think as though Paul were before you now…..the apostle to the gentiles….reading this letter he had penned….you sitting here….no matter where you are from…no matter who mommy and daddy may be….Your pedigree or lack thereof does not count….It does not matter who gramma knew or if grandpa built the church you were baptized in….you….me….everyone….we’re dead in our sins and trespasses.

What type of Death?

I have heard this death was only a metaphor….or hyperbole….or maybe even….possibly Paul was confused and did not really….truly….way down deep mean dead. Was Paul ignorant of the language that he was writing in? Was the Holy Spirit unable to properly communicate to Paul what He desired to be in Scripture? Paul did not say that we had a spiritual cold…..or our allergies were acting up….or that the flu bug was coming around and all we needed to do was get plenty of fluids and rest….NO!!!! He said we were NEKROS…the same root from which we get necrotic and necrosis….dead, without life…lacking in animation…..decaying….

Surely Paul was jesting….these people were not now dead nor had they been recently physically resurrected….How were they, and we…dead…. Paul was referring to spiritual death…without life….without hope….without Christ.

And you….you were dead in your sins and trespasses….we did not become sinners because we sinned…no….we sinned because we were born sinners.

Psalm 51:5

Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.

We have all fallen by the wayside….we have all missed the mark….As Paul wrote to the Romans…

Romans 3:10-12

10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;

11 no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.”

this death…this sin….separates us from God….from the giver of life….the giver of hope…and yet we follow our own way…..which is really not our own way at all as scripture states

Proverbs 14:12

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

We travel this way…the course of this world…the way that seems so right…to so many……so often….everyone is doing it. The path is broad and easily traveled…..there is no resistance and the going is smooth….why not take it? Why not follow the crowds?

Like a parade going down main street we follow in unison….in lockstep with those around us…the natural course…we are among the many throngs of people….though we cannot see who is leading we love the music….the notes are pleasing to our sinful ears….the way seems right. We do not realize who is the conductor of this marching band…it is the prince of the power of the air…the devil…Satan…a liar and the father of them….that old dragon….the serpent in the garden. He blinds the eyes of those who follow after him….

But don’t blame him….Satan did not and cannot make you or I sin…we love it….we love the path of destruction and and gladly follow the pied piper of Hell. We take pleasure in the wicked deeds done around us and gloried in being a son of disobedience. We were lost and did not know it…..walking though inwardly dead.

The lusts of the flesh….this is what we want…when we want it…and how we want it. The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life dominated our everyday existence. This flesh wants things….It wants to be satisfied, gratified, and glorified in our own eyes and the eyes of others. This flesh….this natural man….who so joyously and callously idolizes self, our wills, and our desires. It longs to be filled with every type and form of evil….every illicit relationship and sexual immorality….it wants power and feeds on greed….fame, fortune, and fantasies…the passions that drive our unregenerate selves ever onward into the darkness.

What are the works of the flesh? What types of things so easily beset us?

1 Corinthians 6:9

Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality,[d] 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom

Galatians 5:19

Now the works of the flesh are obvious:[b][c] sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But…but…but….I have never done these things…I have always done what I thought was right…..respected others and tried to do good….I would never commit murder…..I am not a fornicator…..I am good….That is speaking of those other people…those from the other side of town…those from the wrong side of the tracks…..not me….

Now wait a minute….you say you have never murdered? You have never committed adultery? Have you ever been jealous or caused dissension? What standard of goodness are you using to judge yourself? To whom are you comparing yourself with? What subjective standard are you employing to deem yourself righteous?…..What about your thought life? What about those secret desires that you have entertained? The wicked things we have wished for but never could obtain….what about those things?

Jesus had this to say about the extent of and what constituted sin…

Matthew 5:21-22

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[c] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults[d] his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell[e] of fire.

If you hate someone….if you look at a woman guys…or a man, ladies and undress them with your eyes and wish that you could have them…you are guilty….your thoughts have condemned you.

But it was only once…..just one little sin…..I don’t think it really matters that much…does it?

James had this to say:

James 2:10

For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.

One offense makes you guilty of all….perfection is required…the standard is God almighty…not your neighbor and not yourself…..you must be as righteous as Christ…perfect…holy….and without sin….

But we are by nature children of wrath…..unable to keep the law……..unable to be perfect….deserving of Hell and eternal condemnation…..except…..we run into two tiny words that changes everything…

BUT GOD..

though You were dead in your trespasses and sins…
But God though You walked according to the course of this world…
But God though You walked according to the prince of the power of the air….
But God While you were fulfilling the desires of the flesh…
But God While you who were by Nature children of wrath….
But God….Who commended His love towards us…that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us Romans 5:8

but God who loved the world in this manner….that He gave his only begotten son that all those who believe would not perish but have eternal life john 3:16

But God, who is rich in mercy…..mercy completely undeserved….even while dead in our sins He made us alive….taking that old person andi giving us new life….He caused us to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus……we who believe are spiritually with Him….united to Him…in newness of life…..we are new creatures, behold all things have become new. But How….

How did this miracle happen? How did that which once was dead gain life? By grace…..His unmerited favor…..through faith, the substance of things hoped and the evidence of things not seen….it was not of ourselves….we were dead remember? It is the gift of God….we are saved by grace through faith….

Titus 3:5

He saved us — not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

No one…not me, or you, no one…will stand before Jesus Christ on the day of judgment and declare:

I was smart enough, I was good enough, and dog gone it people like me….God will owe no man….when we stand before the throne it will be by His grace…..not because of our decisions…though we make them…..not because of our prayers….though we must pray them….but only by and through His grace will we make it.

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me….I once was lost but now am found…was blind but now I see.

There is a question that remains to be asked however. Who is the us…the you…the we’s spoken of? Who has received this grace by which we are saved?

Turn back one Chapter to Ephesians 1

3 who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.-remember we are seated with Him there

4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.[b] In love[c] 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself,

7 We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses

13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

The us are those who have been adopted into His family, those who were predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son before the foundation of the world, those who were chosen according to His will and His purpose, those who have trusted the message of truth, believed and been sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise…..

that is who the we, you, and us are…..believers chosen by the will of God for His purpsoe…saved by grace through faith…faith in the finished work of Christ…we are no longer children of wrath because He who knew no sin became sin for us….He bore the wrath of the Father…..and reconciled us to Himself by the Cross of Calvary…We are the redeemed, cleansed by the blood of the lamb.

But what if you have never trusted in Him…..if you have never repented and believed…you are still in your sins and by nature a child of wrath. You are lost, undone, and without hope in this world and the world to come. You have no life in you and you will stand before God on that day and give an account of the life you have lived in defiance of His goodness and the truth you have suppressed in unrighteousness.

You are not good enough, you are not smart enough, and you are not strong enough to ever give yourself the spiritual life necessary to come to God…….you are Dead in your sins. If you have not been declared righteous, if you have not been justified, if you are not a member of the family of God…do not take another breath before humbling yourself and repenting before a Holy God. Fall on your knees and pray for mercy for whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Call on Him…not because you are good enough….call on Him because the Gospel…the proclomation of the sinless life of Jesus Christ….His death…His burial….and His resurrection for the forgiveness of sins is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe…to the Jew first and also the Gentile.

Amen.

God bless and Keep the Faith